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FOOD & DRINK

From sushi to satay: Where to find the best Asian food in Paris

When we think about the restaurant scene in Paris, our mind naturally goes to the hearty boeuf bourguignon or coq au vin of French gastronomy. But in fact the city also has a vibrant Asian food scene, as Diana Liu explains.

From sushi to satay: Where to find the best Asian food in Paris
From street food to restaurants, there are some great options in Paris. All photos: Diana Liu

After trying more than 100 restaurants in my five years in Paris, I’m revealing my top five picks for the best East Asian food in the city. 

Akasaka

This unassuming Korean restaurant in the 15th arrondissement that’s usually booked full by locals was one of the first restaurants I tried after moving to Paris.

The fact that the establishment has remained in my top five is a testament to the quality of the dishes served, whether it’s the crowd-pleasing beef bibimbap in a sizzling stone pot or the flavourful sundubu-jjigae, a tofu stew deeply infused with spices and stuffed with pickled vegetables and meat.

Digging into their tteokbokki, a spicy rice cake dish that you can top with ramen, amidst the background of melodious K-pop and Korean chatter, brings me right back to the streets of Seoul.

Trois Fois plus de Piment

Housed in a narrow yet stylish two-storey space near Chatêlet, Trois Fois plus de Piment serves up the city’s most famous Sichuanese noodles and dumplings expertly seasoned with the Chinese region’s famous pepper.

Literally translated as 'three times more spicy', the name may scare those with a sensitive palate. However, the restaurant adapts its spice level to all tastes on a scale of 0-5. My winning combination is an order of their plump dumplings tossed in Sichuanese sauce (level 1), followed by a bowl of their DanDan noodles (without soup) or their Nouilles sèches, topped with minced pork and a sauce infused with the trifecta of Chinese cuisine: scallion, ginger, and garlic.

Rice & Fish

This trendy restaurant near Réaumur Sébastopol serves sushi with a Californian twist – maki rolls featuring innovative pairings like scallop tartare and aioli (one of my favorites) and chirashi bowls with an elegant and colourful assortment of fresh sashimi.

For those who don’t eat raw fish, they’re also known for their signature grands bols – a bowl of warm rice topped with fried tempura vegetables plus a savoury protein that ranges from chicken katsu to roast pig barbecued Hawaiian-style. If I’m feeling really gourmand, I’ll order one of their grands bols and pair it with a maki roll and a slice of their creamy green tea cheesecake for dessert.

Street Bangkok Local Food

Standing out from its neighbours with its street-art-splattered storefront beside the Canal Saint Martin, Street Bangkok Local Food serves up Thai cuisine’s aromatic and complex flavours in an electric atmosphere.

The cold section of their menu features their refreshing, sweet-and-spicy papaya salad – a meal onto itself when served with glutinous rice as per Thai custom. In the hot section, you’ll find the restaurant’s succulent chicken satay as well as a variety of comforting curry dishes featuring lamb, salmon, and other meats (they can also be prepared vegetarian). It’s my go-to whenever I crave vibrant dishes that are refreshing, yet rich and brimming with flavour.

Le Goût de Taïwan

Le Goût de Taïwan, situated on a calm street near Saint-Michel, is the portal between Paris and the homemade Taiwanese fare of my childhood.

Featuring traditional comfort-food dishes like lu rou fan (braised pork rice), the simple yet savoury three cup chicken, sautéed udon noodles with shrimp and assorted vegetables, and even xiaolongbao, delicate dumplings filled with a rich pork broth, everything is perfectly seasoned and beautifully presented in dishes in the shape of the island.

Don’t leave without trying their homemade desserts, Taiwanese specialities such as pineapple cake and black sesame dumplings. To be transported into a Taiwanese kitchen, all you need is a Metro ticket.

Diana Liu is co-creator of ChopChicks in Paris, a blog that details the diverse Asian food offering in Paris.

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FOOD & DRINK

Reader question: Exactly how many different types of cheese are there in France?

One thing everyone can agree on is that France has a lot of cheese - but exactly how many French fromages exist?

Reader question: Exactly how many different types of cheese are there in France?

Question: I often see a quote from Charles de Gaulle talking about ‘246 different types of cheese’, but other articles say there are 600 or even 1,000 different types of cheese and some people say there are just eight types – how many different cheeses are there in France?

A great question on a subject dear to French hearts – cheese.

But it’s one that doesn’t have a simple answer.

Charles de Gaulle did indeed famously say “How can anyone govern a country with 246 different types of cheese”, but even in 1962 when he uttered the exasperated phrase, it was probably an under-estimate.

READ ALSO 7 tips for buying cheese in France

The issue is how you define ‘different’ types of cheese, and unsurprisingly France has a complicated system for designating cheeses.

Let’s start with the eight – there are indeed eight cheese ‘families’ and all of France’s many cheeses can be categorised as one of;

  • Fresh cheese, such as cottage cheese or the soft white fromage blanc
  • Soft ripened cheese, such as Camembert or Brie
  • Soft ripened cheese with a washed rind, such as l’Epoisses or Pont l’Eveque
  • Unpasturised hard cheese such as Reblochon or saint Nectaire
  • Pasturised hard cheese such as Emmental or Comté
  • Blue cheese such as Roquefort 
  • Goat’s cheese
  • Melted or mixed cheese such as Cancaillot

But there are lots of different types of, for example, goat’s cheese.

And here’s where it gets complicated, for two reasons.

The first is that new varieties of cheese are constantly being invented by enterprising cheesemakers (including some which come about by accident, such as le confiné which was created in 2020).

The second is about labelling, geography and protected status.

France operates a system known as Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC or its European equivalent AOP) to designate food products that can only be made in a certain area.

As cheese is an artisan product, quite a lot of different cheese are covered by this – for example a blue sheep’s milk cheese is only Roquefort if it’s been aged in the caves in the village of Roquefort.

There are 63 listed AOC cheeses in France, but many more varieties that don’t have this protected status.

These include generic cheese types such as BabyBel and other cheeses that are foreign in origin but made in France (such as Emmental).

But sometimes there are both AOC and non-AOC versions of a single cheese – a good example of this is Camembert.

AOC Camembert must be made in Normandy by farmers who have to abide by strict rules covering location, milk type and even what their cows eat.

Factory-produced Camembert, however, doesn’t stick to these rules and therefore doesn’t have the AOC label. Is it therefore the same cheese? They’re both called Camembert but the artisan producers of Normandy will tell you – at some length if you let them – that their product is a totally different thing to the mass-produced offering.

There are also examples of local cheeses that are made to essentially the same recipe but have different names depending on where they are produced – sometimes even being on opposite sides of the same Alpine valley is enough to make it two nominally different cheeses.

All of which is to say that guessing is difficult!

Most estimates range from between 600 to 1,600, with cheese experts generally saying there are about 1,000 different varieties. 

So bonne dégustation!

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